LifeWay Research recently completed a study and report that identifies why most young adults are leaving the church and what causes the few to stay.The purpose of this blog entry is to amplify the positive, by identifying in the LifeWay Research report, what causes the few to stay. This information is based on the article by LifeWay Research titled LiveWay Research: Parents, Churches Can Help Teens Stay in Church.
Young adults who continue attending church have…
1. Integrated Faith
Integrating faith is more than attending church, joining in on youth group events; or praying a prayer for salvation. Integrating faith requires moving from observer to participant, from going to church to being the church, by personally embracing Jesus’ mission.
As presented by Stetzer, in the LifeWay article, “Teens are looking for more from a youth ministry than a holding tank with pizza…. They look for a church that teaches them how to live life. As they enter young adulthood, church involvement that has made a difference in their lives gives them a powerful reason to keep attending.”
2. Heard Relevant Teaching
To be reverent to God, the church must be relevant to the culture. If the church’s teaching isn’t relevant, then it is irrelevant, and this is irreverent. For young adults to stay, they must grow up relating to God’s timeless truth in real life ways. Relevant teaching doesn’t minimize God’s truth; it amplifies the application of His truth. Reggie Joiner puts it this way “use what is culural to communicate what is timeless” (Max Q, by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall, page 45).
McDonnell states in the LifeWay article, “Attending worship is the basic level of involvement for most who attend church at all. Many never add to or go beyond this as teens…. If as teens they can’t relate to the sermons at their church or don’t enjoy the worship style, then as young adults they can easily fall away from their only connection to the church.”
3. A Spiritual Mentor, Who Is An Adult
Relationships create staying power. As Bill Allison of Cadre International states, “No Relationships = No Ministry; Know Relationships = Know Ministry”. But these relationships must exist in context of Jesus’ mission. The mission to “make disciples.” This is spiritual mentoring, and it takes intentionality. Adults must authenticate Jesus to the younger generations.
As McConnell says in the LifeWay article, “Meaningful relationships with adults at church help teenagers see church as a place they belong”…. “Investment time in young people lives out the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way”….”It proves that a young person belongs at church. It can help connect the dots to help a teen integrate their faith into their life. And it gives the teen a connection to church after graduation when many of their peers are no longer around.”
4. Parents Who Authenticate Jesus, In All Arenas Of Life
In twelve years of student ministry, I have observed a consistent pattern – students who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission, have parents who are passionately in love with Jesus and live His mission. The LifeWay Research substantiates my observation that these students seldom exit the church upon graduation – instead they continue to grow in loving God and loving others as active leaders in the church and community. For additional thoughts on this read: A Strong Word to Parents and Parenting Teenagers to Passionately Love God.
As stated in the LifeWay article, “Teens who, at age 17, have parents who are authentic examples of Christian faith -proactive and consistent in living out their faith – also are more likely to keep attending as young adults. Across the board, 20 percent more of those who stayed indicated they had parents or family members who discussed spiritual things, gave them spiritual guidance and prayed together.”
When children and youth integrate faith in Jesus, into the core of their being, they gain staying power. This integration must begin at home, through parents who authenticate Jesus. It must be completed by the church, through spiritual mentors and relevant teaching. This partnership for spiritual formation will engage today’s younger generation to continue as active participants, in the church, when they are young adults.
Filed under: church, youth ministry | Tagged: Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research, parents, spiritual formation, spiritual mentoring, youth | 3 Comments »